Pride in Homer's Iliad


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Pride in The Iliad

 

      The period in which the events in The Iliad took place were different

than the times of today. Back then, the most important aspect of life for a

person was to be a hero and to be  remembered.  One's pride would come

before everything else. In the present day, this concept would be thought

of as illogical or foolish. This is certainly true. But, that is how life

was in that time- peoples' beliefs were to be the death of them. Pride was

the downfall of all characters in Homer's epic poem, The Iliad.

 

      Hectors fatal mistake was that he chose pride over his own well being

in the battle with Achilles. He could have taken safety within the walls of

Troy, or disappeared into a mass of his comrades, but Hector chose to stand

his ground and confront Achilles.   "Ah for a young man all looks fine and

noble if he goes down in war...he lies there dead...but whatever death lays

bare, all wounds are marks of glory."  If  Hector had salvaged his pride

and retreated to safety, he would have lived to defend Troy. Therefore, the

possibility arises that he could have stopped the onslaught of the Acheans

altogether, and won the war for the Trojans. The result of Hectors pride

was his death and the betrayment of his fellow warriors and friends.

 

      Another person within the Iliad whose pride was the downfall of his

character, was Patrocleus. Patrocleus was a great warrior, friend, and

asset to the Achiens. But, he made foolish choices on account of his pride.

For instance he chose to wear Achille's armor into battle when Achilles

refused to fight. This was only for his self-glorification. "...Once you have

beaten off the lethal fire, quick, come back to the ships-you must not

battle Hector!"  After going into battle brandishing the armor, Patrocleus

becomes overzealous and places himself at the enemy's disposal. If

Patrocleus would have thought logically, and not acted on pride, he would

of remained alive.

 

      In addition to Hector and Patrocleus, the main character in The Iliad

- Achilles, was also brought to ruin by his pride.  For example, he was too

proud to fight in the war when Agamemnon took his woman.

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"But now that he's

torn my honor from my hands, robbed me, lied to me...he'll never win me

over!" So, he sat and sulked when his fellow Acheans needed him most.

Achilles made another immoral resolution based on pride when he granted

Patrocleus the use of his armor. He thought that this would preserve his

egotism, but still allow him assist his companions. If Achilles would have

made his decision based upon sound reasoning, he would not have sent his

friend into danger, or create a downfall of his character.

 

      Pride was the downfall of all characters in Homer's The Iliad. This

was proven through the actions of Hector, when he stood his ground against

Achilles; Patrocleus, when he asked to employ Achilles' armor; and through

Achilles, when he gave permission for Patrocleus use his armor. By studying

the Iliad and this period in time, we can learn from the mistakes of these

characters, and compose our choices based not upon some self-centered

rationalization, but to look at the whole picture, and arrive at a decision

that is right for everyone.


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